It is now two months since Hamas’ surprise attack and Israel’s brutal response, and there are few signs that the slaughter will let up any time soon. The violence has captured the world’s attention and become the top story across the globe.
Unsurprisingly, then, the entertainment world has taken sides too. In the wake of the October 7 assault, more than 700 celebrities signed an open letter pledging support to the government of Israel. On the other hand, the hip-hop community has displayed solidarity with Gaza, with over 600 artists joining the Musicians for Palestine movement.
Joining MintCast host Alan MacLeod today to talk about Gaza and the music industry is Immortal Technique. Immortal Technique is an independent rapper and activist widely regarded as one of his generation’s most respected and gifted artists. He has used his platforms on social media to constantly speak out about the situation and educate his huge audience about colonialism, capitalism and imperialism. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Immortal Technique was keen to see the violence in Gaza as part of a bigger picture. “It is a continuation of the political aspirations of not just the United States, but [also] NATO,” he said. Israel has, for many decades, served as the United States’ local cop on the beat, an extension of the U.S. empire, hence the unwavering support in Washington D.C.
“There are some beliefs among revolutionaries and the left that need to be challenged,” the Peruvian-born MC told MacLeod today. One of them is the anti-Semitic trope that Israel pulls the strings in the U.S. “In reality,” he said, “it is the United States of America that is pulling all the strings for Israel. The United States uses the government of Israel to do the types of things that it cannot do.”
In 1981, for example, the United States got Israel to destroy an Iraqi nuclear reactor. Israel has also surreptitiously aided the apartheid government of South Africa and supplied weapons to the fascist Chilean dictatorship when it was too politically difficult for the U.S. to do so.
Ultimately, though, Immortal Technique argued that Washington is not making ordinary Israelis safer. “The United States cannot really protect Israel; it can only sell them weapons to brutalize their neighbors,” he said.
The pair also discussed the huge pressures on artists in the entertainment industry to toe the line on Israel/Palestine and the penalties that occur if they speak out.
Luckily for Immortal Technique, his unique status as an independent musician with no corporate bosses means he can speak freely. Steering clear of major record labels could be an option worth exploring for many in the business, he told MacLeod, stressing that signing to a major label means signing a lot of your life away. As he explained:
If you take the stairs and you fall down, you only fall down a flight. But if you take the elevator and the cable snaps, you are going to the bottom, motherfucker. You hear me? And that’s the difference between independence and being in the mainstream.”
The New York-based rapper explained further:
I have my own fan base. If I fall down the stairs, I’m falling, maybe a flight, and I can dust myself off. But if I am on a major label so I could make my career, I would have taken an elevator all the way up, and the moment I didn’t say anything, they would have clipped the cord, and I would have fallen all the way back down [to the bottom].”
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Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.
Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.